Joshua 1:9 (NIV 1984) "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
God challenges our tendency to calculate circumstances. If A = B, then there's no way C can work out, get fixed etc. Then, we spiral downward by becoming fearful of the unknown. When opposition arises we question, What if . . . and then make a mental list of rationalizations of why we shouldn't do ___________. Our actions begin to convey cowardice choices rather than biblically courageous ones.
For example, last June I was presented with the opportunity to speak to a group of women in Haiti next month with Mercy League International. I gracefully responded to the invitee that it would be a neat opportunity, not really thinking it would occur anytime soon.
The event planner contacted me last Fall and inquired specifics of when I could come. I then asked my prayer team to pray about this opportunity and the Lord's provision for me to minister to these women.
In mid-January I received an email reading this way: "Hester, I just want to let you know that my husband and I have enough air mile points to cover your entire flight to Haiti. We're so excited to support your ministry opportunity."
After I rejoiced and shared the news with friends, I began to have misgivings. Fear filled me; anxiety crept in and my mind began to play the "What if" game. What is wrong with me? I thought.
God knows human nature is to shrink back when challenges arise. When we panic, we can emerge mentally paralyzed; when our tank is empty, we can shift into timidity; when we are slighted, we can become scared; when we lose hope, we can live with hesitation; when we are discouraged, we experience doubt; when we are intimidated we tend to isolate ourselves; when we undergo tragedy we can continue in terror.
Seventy-six times in Scripture we are told, "Do not be afraid". . .
- Genesis 15:1 "After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.' "
- Genesis 26:24 "That night the Lord appeared to Isaac and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.' "
- Genesis 46:3 " 'I am God, the God of your father,' he said (to Jacob). 'Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again.' "
- Exodus 14:13 "Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.' "
- Joshua 8:1 "Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai.' "
- Judges 6:23 "But the Lord said to Gideon, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.' "
- Daniel 10:12 "Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.' "
The other sixty-nine mentions of this phrase equally exhorts individuals. In the face of opposition these heroes of faith are motivated with these four powerful words. God confronts each person's tendency to be afraid, by specifically telling them, "Do not be afraid". He repeats this statement to emphasize, with Him, there is no reason to tremble; with Him, there is no reason to fall back; with Him, we have every reason to move ahead courageously.
Notice God tells them why they are not to be afraid, "For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." God assures His people that His presence is enough for them to move forward in faith and carry out the task at hand. He motivates them by reminding them they do not walk alone. Too often we neglect to live in the truth that God IS with us and we are not deserted.
The enormous magnificence of God is bigger than our greatest fears, our vast weaknesses, and the extensiveness of our battles. We forget we serve a God who strengthens the weak, who cast's out fear, who delivers the oppressed and who accomplishes extraordinary tasks through the ordinary person.
Chip Ingram says it accurately, "If you have a big problem, you have a little God. If you have a BIG God, you have a little problem."
Human inclination operates in personal ability and strength. "I can do this, I just need to believe in myself." We need to get to the end of ourselves, move past our fears and grasp that God gives us the courage to overcome. Until then, we will wallow in self-pity, maintain the status-quo, stay short sighted, and remain stagnant in our faith.
The enemy likes to pick fights with us. We also need to recognize his scare tactics. Let's learn to not disappoint his pathetic efforts by enlisting the help of God by praying and quoting Scripture.
For every fiery dart the enemy throws as my departure date gets closer, I strive to extinguish them with the power of Christ and the truth of His Word. Lord, let me not be swayed by the enemy's attempts to derail me. Give me courage and strength to follow through with this. You are with me and my confidence is in You.
"Do not be afraid . . . "
- Fearless or frightened . . .
- Confident or calculated . . .
- Tough or timid . . .
- Gutsy or no grit . . .
- Bold or bench warmer. . .
- Daring or despaired . . .
- Audacious or afraid . . .
- Courageous or cowardice . . .
What will you choose? Which words will you allow to define you?
Consider the heroes of courage mentioned above. Pick one and read their story this week.
Here are a few others: 1 Chronicles 28:20, Isaiah 10:24, Jeremiah 1:8 , Ezekiel 2:6, Zechariah 8:13, Matthew 1:20.
Write these four authoritative words on a Post-it and put it in a prominent place as a visual reminder: "DO NOT BE AFRAID".
How do the words, "Do not be afraid" encourage you?
What are you fearful of this week? How does the truth, "God is with you", enable you to move past your panic and worry?
How is God asking you to display courage in your life? What needs to change for you to get to this place?
What fiery darts of the enemy attempt to wreck you?
Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 27:1 (NIV) "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
Matthew 28:10 "Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.' "
Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Acts 18:9 "One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: 'Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.' "
Revelation 2:10 "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."
Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.